Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" (Oscar)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Mitsubishi Ki-46 Model II "Dinah" - video - follow-up

Since the previous posting we've been doing research trying to find more about the aircraft in the video, the marking and the unit it belonged to. We mentioned the 106th Sentai as a possible candidate. Wind Swords, very kindly forwarded a short piece in pdf form by "Jim Lansdale" claiming that the marking as it appears in the "Dinah" photo below (photo credit: NARA) belongs to the 106Sentai
The piece (badly in need of serious editing) features a more extensive history of the unit but there is no proof or justification as to why the author believes the marking is of that particular sentai, not another. As we saw in the previous posting, Peter Scott identified the marking on the "Dinah" in the video as belonging to the 106Sentai. If the author of the 106Sentai pdf disagrees with the P. Scott and claims that the 106th used a different marking, the natural thing would have been to offer some kind of proof. But it's more of a cause-I-say-so presentation typical of the certain "researcher". The particular marking above is not included in any publication I know of (feel free to let me know if you do). Not in the Akimoto Koku Fan series of articles, not in the "Dinah" FAOW, not in KFI#42 or any Model Art. Therefore at this stage I would have to say that it belonged to an un-identified unit. Having said that, tail markings with bombs similar to the one in the photo above are usually attributed to Shimbu-tai. But instead of going on in that direction allow me to thank Wind Swords for forwarding the piece and to get back to the "Dinah" video.
As we saw in the previous posting, the video talks about the November 7, 1944 attack against US bases on Saipan island. We saw that at that time the bigger unit responsible for these attacks was not yet the 6th Army but the "Kyodo Kokugun".
We found that on October 31, 1944 (very close to the attack date) "Kyodo Kukugun" included in its strength the following:
1. HQ flight,
2. Shimoshizu Kyodo Hikoshidan (recce),
3. Akeno KH (fighter),
4. Hitachi KH (fighter),
5. Hokota KH (light bomber),
6. Hamamatsu KH (heavy bomber),
7. Utsunomiya KH (navigation),
8. 2nd Dokuritsu Hikotai (heavy bomber),
9. 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai (command recconaissance),
10. 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai (command recconaissance) 
Only the marking of the 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai has appeared in publications or unit marking lists so far.  
A few words about the Dokuritsu Hikotai (Independent Wings).
On July 12, 1941 the reconnaissance sections of  various Sentai were re-organized as Dokuritsu Hikotai, for example the 29th Sentai (recce) became the 29 Dokuritsu Hikotai with HQ, the 66th Dokuritsu Chutai and the 87th Dokuritsu Chutai both with "Sonia".
At the beginning of the Pacific War the Dokuritsu Hikotai were quite large in size but gradually became smaller and more flexible to use. The Dokuritsu Hikotai were not assigned to certain Hikodan (Air Brigades) but were directly assigned to the Commander of Kokugun (Air Army) or Hikoshidan (Air Division). 
Simply put, initially the IJAAF had sentai equipped with Ki-36 "Ida" and/or Ki-51 "Sonia" that were in direct cooperation with ground units performing reconnaissance, light bombing and communication missions. During the war in China, it was realized that such units of sentai strength were too cumbersome and so various smaller units like Dokuritsu Chutai (Independent Companies) were organized and fanctioned in very close cooperation with ground units. During the Pacific War, some direct cooperation units changed their aircraft to "Dinah" and became exclusive reconnaissance units but instead of cooperating with ground forces they were assigned to the HQ or directly to the CO of higher formations like Air Armies who wanted to have information about enemy positions in order to send their bomber and fighter units.
The Dokuritsu Hikotai of the "Kyodo Kokugun" were put together on July 20, 1944 with the best pilots of various schools. The 2nd from Hamamatsu, the 3rd from Hokota and the 4th from Shimoshizu. The 2nd had nine heavy bombers, the 3rd and 4th from nine "Dinah" each but in November 1944 (exact date unknown) the 3rd changed its "Dinah" to "Sally" becoming the famous "Giretsu Kuteitai" that attacked the Okinawa airfields with paratroops. 
Returning to the video and the attacks on Saipan, on November 2 the first attack took place. From the "Kyodo Kokugun" participated the 2nd Dokuritsu Hikotai with nine "Sally" taking off from Hamamatsu and the 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai with unknown number of aircraft. The nine "Sally" reached Iwojima but after refueling, one of them broke down and as a result eight bombers attacked Aslito Airfield on Saipan. The raid included Ta-Dan bombs (probably from the "Dinah") and strafing attacks causing fires at six locations but although all aircraft begun to return to base only three "Sally" actually did.  
On November 6, seven Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers together with five (un-identified) aircraft and six "Dinah" from the "Kyodo Kokugun" advanced to Okinawa and attacked the Marianas on the 7th.  Unfortunately we have not found any clear reference as to which unit these six "Dinah" belonged to. It is very possible though that it was a repetition of the November 2 raid i.e. five "Sally" from the 2nd Dokuritsu Hikotai and six "Dinah" from the 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai. If that's the case then the "Dinah" in the video definitely belonged to the 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai.
In other words. The "Dinah" in the video either belonged to the 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai or the 4th. Did the 3rd contribute aircraft in the November 7 raid or was it preparing for the "Giretsu Kuteitai" raid? The marking for the 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai that appears in most publications is the one as shown on the "Sally" transports of the "Giretsu Kuteitai"; the three red/white bars which is the number "3" in kanji. Could the marking of the "Dinah" in the video be an early 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai marking? I believe it's unlikely and since the marking does look like a "4" on its side and nothing like a "3", the conclusion of this research, although not beyond any doubt, is that the marking on the "Dinah" in the video is not of the 106 Sentai but of the 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai.

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